Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Stay in the EU. It’s clearly in our interests (Times)

Europe isn’t perfect but we would be wrong to leave the world’s biggest trading bloc, argues Alistair Darling.

2. We doctors worry about NHS failings, too (Daily Telegraph)

Hospital A&Es are at breaking point, and it’s no use blaming the patients, says Sarah Wollaston.

3. The time for a British decision is now (Financial Times)

It is doubtful London could remain the continent’s financial capital if the UK quit the EU, writes Martin Wolf.

4. Labour must stand firm: no to a referendum on Europe (Guardian)

Out-of-office Tories have Cameron in a corner, writes Polly Toynbee. But Miliband should ignore calls to hold a futile and distracting in-out vote.

5. Our universities should take a lesson from the land of the free (Daily Telegraph)

Britain and the US have chosen two very different models for funding universities – and it’s clear which is winning, says Fraser Nelson.

6. Despite the cynics, don’t give up on politics (Times)

Alan Johnson’s memoir of childhood poverty is a reminder that our leaders are not all from an out-of-touch elite, says Philip Collins.

7. The new Archbishop should stop this gesture politics (Independent)

Justin Welby should seize the opportunity to totally reshape the role of bishops in the House of Lords, says Frank Field. 

8. Probation cannot be solved by a minister in a hurry (Guardian)

Reforming probation is too important to be jeopardised by a rush to results for partisan political purposes, says a Guardian editorial.

9. George Osborne's hair of the dog that bit us (Daily Telegraph)

The Chancellor wants a mini-boom to restore growth, but that’s what got us into this mess, writes Jeremy Warner. 

10. Alex Ferguson's hairdryer treatment won't cut it in politics (Guardian)

The Manchester United boss has been wildly lauded for his success on the pitch, writes Simon Jenkins. Those who govern us don't have it so easy.

Grant Shapps on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty
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Grant Shapps resigns over Tory youth wing bullying scandal

The minister, formerly party chairman, has resigned over allegations of bullying and blackmail made against a Tory activist. 

Grant Shapps, who was a key figure in the Tory general election campaign, has resigned following allegations about a bullying scandal among Conservative activists.

Shapps was formerly party chairman, but was demoted to international development minister after May. His formal statement is expected shortly.

The resignation follows lurid claims about bullying and blackmail among Tory activists. One, Mark Clarke, has been accused of putting pressure on a fellow activist who complained about his behaviour to withdraw the allegation. The complainant, Elliot Johnson, later killed himself.

The junior Treasury minister Robert Halfon also revealed that he had an affair with a young activist after being warned that Clarke planned to blackmail him over the relationship. Former Tory chair Sayeedi Warsi says that she was targeted by Clarke on Twitter, where he tried to portray her as an anti-semite. 

Shapps appointed Mark Clarke to run RoadTrip 2015, where young Tory activists toured key marginals on a bus before the general election. 

Today, the Guardian published an emotional interview with the parents of 21-year-old Elliot Johnson, the activist who killed himself, in which they called for Shapps to consider his position. Ray Johnson also spoke to BBC's Newsnight:


The Johnson family claimed that Shapps and co-chair Andrew Feldman had failed to act on complaints made against Clarke. Feldman says he did not hear of the bullying claims until August. 

Asked about the case at a conference in Malta, David Cameron pointedly refused to offer Shapps his full backing, saying a statement would be released. “I think it is important that on the tragic case that took place that the coroner’s inquiry is allowed to proceed properly," he added. “I feel deeply for his parents, It is an appalling loss to suffer and that is why it is so important there is a proper coroner’s inquiry. In terms of what the Conservative party should do, there should be and there is a proper inquiry that asks all the questions as people come forward. That will take place. It is a tragic loss of a talented young life and it is not something any parent should go through and I feel for them deeply.” 

Mark Clarke denies any wrongdoing.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.